Sunday, April 3, 2016

Carry On

Rated 4 Stars
Format:  Audio Book
Genre:  Fantasy

Normally this is not a genre I usually read but I had read and enjoyed Rowell's Fan Girl so I was delighted when I discovered that she had written Carry On.  But while this book is a spin off of Fan Girl  it stands alone.  It's not necessary to read Fan Girl first but it does help.  I loved being able to picture Cath hunched over her laptop diligently writing this book.

Audible Description:

Simon Snow is the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen.
That's what his roommate, Baz, says. And Baz might be evil and a vampire and a complete git, but he's probably right.
Half the time, Simon can't even make his wand work, and the other half, he starts something on fire. His mentor's avoiding him, his girlfriend broke up with him, and there's a magic-eating monster running around, wearing Simon's face. Baz would be having a field day with all this, if he were here--it's their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon's infuriating nemesis didn't even bother to show up.
Carry On - The Rise and Fall of Simon Snow is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you'd expect from a Rainbow Rowell story - but far, far more monsters.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Journey to Munich: A Maisie Dobbs Novel

I love the Maisie Dobbs books. One of the hallmarks with her books is the beautiful way the can put her readers in the exact place and time in which her novels are set.   I could feel the darkness of that time as if it were a malevolent fog settling over Europe.  The author didn't need to go into with all the horrible details.  As on reviewer put it  "You could feel the fear."

I can never say that anyone of Winspeare's book is the best one yet because I always think that about every one of them when I first read it.  But I can say that this one did not disappoint.  Maisie grows with each book both as a person and as also as an investigator. 

Publisher's Summary

Working with the British Secret Service on an undercover mission, Maisie Dobbs is sent to Hitler's Germany in this thrilling tale of danger and intrigue - the 12th novel in Jacqueline Winspear's New York Times best-selling "series that seems to get better with each entry" (The Wall Street Journal).

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

All About Emily

By Connie Willis
Rated 4.5 Stars
Format:  Hard Cover
Genre:  Fantasy

A friend very kindly sent this book to me and I really appreciate it.  As much as I like Connie Willis's books I wouldn't have paid $4.99 for a 96 page Novella let alone $7.19 for a hard cover.

But I really enjoyed this story and the ending left me smiling and just a little puzzled.

Amazon Book Description

Theater legend Claire Havilland fears she might be entering the Sunset Boulevard phase of her career. That is, until her manager arranges a media appearance with her biggest fan--a famous artificial intelligence pioneer's teenage niece. After precocious Emily's backstage visit, Claire decides she's in a different classic film altogether. While unnaturally charming Emily swears she harbors no desire for the spotlight, Claire wonders if she hasn't met her very own Eve Harrington from All About Eve. But the story becomes more complex as dreams of fame give way to concerns about choice, free will, and identity.

With this long, 17,000 word novelette, acclaimed author Connie Willis combines the glamour of old Hollywood and the eternal allure of Broadway to explore the cutting edge robotics of a richly-imagined near future.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Fan Girl

By:  Rainbow Rowell
Rated 4.5 Stars
Genre:  Romance/Coming of Age
Format: Audible

Fangirl is about a young girl venturing into college and leaving the side of her twin for the first time. 

Starting college with out your twin sister whom you have always shared a room with is a big change. Cath, shy, nerdy and socially awkward has always depended on her outgoing sister for her social life and for years she has immersed herself in an on-line community consisting of the fans of a best selling series of books whose main character is Simon Snow. But college is changing everything for Cath. Her sister wants a hard partying college experience and no longer wants to room with her.  Cath has been writing nearly famous fan-fiction based on the Simon Snow characters for years. With her life seemingly falling apart, fan-fiction is her only escape from the torment of her reality.  But as the year progresses, Cath slowly comes to realize that new experiences, although scary at times, can also be rewarding. 

At first the Simon Snow/Twilight similarities bothered me but by the end of the book that element had stopped setting my teeth on edge. The author, quite cleverly I thought, gently introduced Cath's fan faction by working excerpts from "Carry On Simon" into the story. 

Audible Book Description
In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life--and she's really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it's what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath's sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can't let go. She doesn't want to.
Now that they're going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn't want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She's got a surly roommate with a char
ming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can't stop worrying about her dad, who's loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

Friday, March 25, 2016


By Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Rated 4 Stars
Aubio Format
Genre M/M Romance

M/M books are a genre that is new for me.  I am way to old to spend money so that I can pant over a book that has steamy scenes that I don't get.  But Sarina and Elle write such strong stories peopled with great secondary characters that their books insist that I read them because I can always just skip past the scenes that make me uncomfortable.  I've been doing that to Nora Robert"s books for years. :)

Last year I stumbled across Sarina Bowen's Understatement of the Year and just like that - I'm not afraid of the M/M genre anymore.

Purloined from Amazon's product page:

They don't play for the same team. Or do they?  

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley's biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he'll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions--
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016


By Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Rated 4 Stars
Kindle Format
Genre M/M Romance

This book is a continuation of their book HIM.  I would have been very disappointed had Sarina and Elle not decided to tell how the story of how Jamie and Wes worked out.

Purloined from Amazon's product page:

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated? 

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice. Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves. Or can they? When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel.
 With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?  Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.

Friday, March 18, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

By:  Bill Bryson
Rated 4 Stars
Narrated by:  Nathan Osgood

I love travel books and Bill Bryson is my gold standard.  I buy his books as soon as I'm aware a new one has been released.  For a very long time I have been purchasing them in audio format because listening to Bill Bryson read his book adds an element that professional narrators, no matter how good,  just can't achieve.

For that reason I have only rated this book four stars.  I was very disappointed that the author was not reading this himself.  I should have just purchased this in Kindle format.

But the book itself was, as usual, very good. I really love his use of language and it's is a great sequel to Notes from a Small Island.  I so wish I was still able to travel because he mentions so many places I would love to visit in person.

Publisher's Summary

The hilarious and loving sequel to a hilarious and loving classic of travel writing: Notes from a Small Island, Bill Bryson's valentine to his adopted country of England. 
In 1995, Bill Bryson got into his car and took a weeks-long farewell motoring trip about England before moving his family back to the United States. The book about that trip, Notes from a Small Island, is uproarious and endlessly endearing, one of the most acute and affectionate portrayals of England in all its glorious eccentricity ever written. Two decades later, he set out again to rediscover that country, and the result is The Road to Little Dribbling. Nothing is funnier than Bill Bryson on the road; prepare for the total joy and multiple episodes of unseemly laughter. 

The Mother Tongue

I have always love Bill Bryson use of language and his sense of humor.  I learn far more listening to his books than I do listening to some of the more academically presented lectures to be found on audible.

Publisher's Description:

With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson - the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent - brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience, and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't) to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A Spy Among Friends: Kim Philby and the Great Betrayal

Rated:  4 

This book kept me listening far into the night. I never did get a feeling for what made this guy tick. I just can't imagine being able to  maintain the kind of facade necessary to pull off a deception on this scale.  What did he think he was doing?  I finally came to the conclusion that he was just hooked on thrill of being able to hoodwink so many people.  He couldn't have given any thought to how many lives he ruined.  I don't think he could have lived with himself if he had.

Publisher's Summary

Master storyteller Ben Macintyre's most ambitious work to date offers a powerful new angle on the 20th century's greatest spy story.
Kim Philby was the greatest spy in history, a brilliant and charming man who rose to head Britain's counterintelligence against the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War - while he was secretly working for the enemy. And nobody thought he knew Philby like Nicholas Elliott, Philby's best friend and fellow officer in MI6. The two men had gone to the same schools, belonged to the same exclusive clubs, grown close through the crucible of wartime intelligence work and long nights of drink and revelry. It was madness for one to think the other might be a communist spy, bent on subverting Western values and the power of the free world. 
But Philby was secretly betraying his friend. Every word Elliott breathed to Philby was transmitted back to Moscow - and not just Elliott's words, for in America, Philby had made another powerful friend: James Jesus Angleton, the crafty, paranoid head of CIA counterintelligence. Angleton's and Elliott's unwitting disclosures helped Philby sink almost every important Anglo-American spy operation for twenty years, leading countless operatives to their doom. Even as the web of suspicion closed around him, and Philby was driven to greater lies to protect his cover, his two friends never abandoned him - until it was too late. The stunning truth of his betrayal would have devastating consequences on the two men who thought they knew him best, and on the intelligence services he left crippled in his wake.

Friday, February 26, 2016

A Mother's Reckoning

By Sue Klebold

Rated 4 Stars
Kindle Format

This is one of the saddest books I've ever read.  It's been more than seventeen years since this tragedy and when I saw that Sue Klebold had written a book I bought it hoping to read that the parents of the young men who had perpetrated this terrible crime had been able to put their lives back together and move on.  

Sue Klebold's book is a well written, heartbreakingly honest and introspective account of the step by step process of she and her husband went through in attempting deal with the horrible reality that their  son had viciously killed others and then himself  

I don't think anyone will ever really know why those boys did what they did.  I just feel so very sorry for everyone whose lives they destroyed or damaged.

Publisher's Summary

On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill 12 students and a teacher and wound 24 others before taking their own lives. 
For the last 16 years, Sue Klebold, Dylan's mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently? 
These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother's Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and countless interviews with mental health experts. 
Filled with hard-won wisdom and compassion, A Mother's Reckoning is a powerful and haunting book that sheds light on one of the most pressing issues of our time. And with fresh wounds from the recent Newtown and Charleston shootings, never has the need for understanding been more urgent.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Death Clouds on Mt. Baldy

By:  Cathy Hufault
Rated 5 Stars
Kindle Format

This book recounts a tragic hike by a group of six Boy Scouts gone tragically wrong.  The author Cathy Hufault, sister of one of the surviving scouts, authored this comprehensive account of those 19 days in the fall of 1958, following a record-breaking blizzard that came out of nowhere and took the young adventurers by surprise.

I was living at Ft. Huachuca, AZ when this happened and I remember it very well.  Hundreds of people turned out to search in terrible weather conditions to try to find these boys. It broke everyone's heart when it became apparent that the outcome was not going to be a good one.


Trailer for book on youtube

mp3 Exploring the story behind the deaths of three Boy Scouts near Tucson in 1958

Book Description:

This haunting historical adventure drama relays harrowing accounts of rescue, survival, bravery and tragic loss. It was the largest search and rescue operation in Arizona history. On November 15,1958 an unpredicted record breaking arctic-like blizzard roars out of nowhere across the mild desert terrain of southern Arizona. Three little boys are feared caught out in the open, perhaps buried under the three to seven feet of snowfall in the mountains. Cowboys ram through snow up to their horses’ necks, hikers push through monster snowdrifts, and helicopters hover at dangerous altitudes in their struggle to find the boys before they die. Re-live the courage, true-grit and anguish on the trail.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Carry the Ocean (The Roosevelt Book 1)

By Heidi Cullinan
Rated 5+ Stars
Kindle book
Genre:  M/M Romance
# of books read 2016 - 1

This is the second book written in a genre I never thought I would read. But it was highly recommended and then the cover reminded me so much of my Great Grandson Austin that of course I had to read it. I am very glad that I did.  It made me even prouder of him than I already was.  It's a profoundly moving story and should be required for the entire human race.

Book description on amazon:

Normal is just a setting on the dryer.

The Roosevelt, Book 1
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.